The Des Moines Register is the largest newspaper in the state of Iowa with a daily circulation of nearly 100,000 and a Sunday circulation of over 200,000. Although the paper is located and concentrates in the Des Moines area, there is a statewide edition known simply as the Register.
This week, the Des Moines Register ran an online story on the number of public schools within the state of Iowa that have some sort of guards, whether it be school resource officers, police officers or private security guards. Out of the 348 public schools surveyed in the state, they received responses from at least 54 schools that indicated they had some sort of guard.
Without thinking of the consequences, they thought it would be a good idea to publish an interactive online map of all of the public schools throughout the state. When you clicked on any school, the map would tell you if that school had guards or not. The map showed that of the 25 largest schools in the state, 3 had no guards.
It didn’t take long for parents to start flooding the newspaper with complaints causing the pam to be pulled from the online post. Some of the complaints read:
David Carlo: “Everyone knows that schools are gun free zones and thus an easy target for sick people wanting to inflict mass casualties. Keep it generic for the children’s safety. 56 schools have a resource officer in the school, 200 have none and 100 did not respond to the survey. This gets the facts across without putting any lives in harm’s way.”
Rebecca Ann Taylor: “I do not understand how you can be so reckless and think this is actually newsworthy!”
Ed Thomson: “Apologies will not suffice. Not this time. Children’s lives were placed at risk.” [Editor Rick Green should] “fire those responsible for this article and then follow that with his resignation!”
Rick Green, Editor of the Des Moines Register replied to questions about the map, saying:
“I’ll tell you, nothing is more important to me than protecting the students, school teachers and administrators and safeguarding a community against any kind of violence.”
“We got a couple of phone calls from readers who were concerned about a map, took it down immediately, re-adjusted it.”
“I’m not going to make the same mistake that has unfortunately plagued some other newsrooms about sensitivity. I try to be fair and responsible and not do anything reckless. I love my job too much.”
“I love the role that we play here in Iowa, and I care too much about the safety of school teachers and students to do anything so that people would think we were being reckless and heartless. I just don’t operate that way.”
What in the world are some people thinking when they do things like this? Don’t they realize that they just provided a road map for any would be wacko that wanted to outdo Adam Lanza’s rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Sadly, this is typical of many members of the press these days in that they are so wrapped up in the story that they fail to see the broader picture and consequences of what may happen because of it.
This reminds me of the New York newspaper that published the interactive map showing the names and addresses of every person in the county that had a firearm permit. It wasn’t long after the publication of that map that some homeowners were targeted by burglars. Hopefully, the same won’t be true with the Des Moines Register map and that it was pulled before anyone with a warped mind could utilize it.